P D Dawson
Book Review - My Year of Rest and Relaxation by Ottessa Moshfegh
Through the eyes and drug-addled mind of its nameless female narrator, we are taken on a journey as she circles sleep like a rotating door, in which consciousness is merely the brief moments put aside for sessions with her clueless psychiatrist and endless trips to the pharmacist to top up on her current sleep drug/s of choice. And though this character is far from likeable, it is intriguing and satisfying to see her push her luck, and there is some kind of cathartic release in hearing her inner monologue as she temporarily gives up on the world around her.
Her friend Reva is clueless as to the real view our narrator has of her, but the friendship isn't completely disposable, for she has some uses, namely making our narrator feel better about her own problems. And so we should be sickened by the flippancy of our reckless pill-swallowing heroine. But somehow I found myself rooting for her, making excuses for her, and at times, yes at times, I even felt sorry for her. How would it end? Will she survive the novel? Some of the questions this novel is sure to raise as you read through it. Oh yes and, surely they'll be a happy ending? I need to see sunlight again dammit!
The novel is very dark, but it's also full of invention and just as in her novel, Eileen, the central character was so convincing, so stuffed with minute details and the seemingly random stuff she got up to while supposedly asleep, that it made me genuinely fearful of what morning would bring, or is that afternoon, or evening? By the end, even you might be led to question where you are, and what day it is. Hell, what year?
Ottessa Moshfegh is an American author and novelist. Her debut novel, Eileen, won the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award, was shortlisted for the Booker Prize, and was a fiction finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Wikipedia